A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Similar Codes In The American And Chinese Culture
A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Similar Codes In The American And Chinese Culture (Textual, Interpretive And Social Codes)
Societies use different codes, interpretive, social and textual codes and these codes compares and contrasts between one society and another. For example, a handshake, which is one of the communication codes is used in many cultures and may denote similar or dissimilar meanings such as respect. This is also the case with other codes such as music, art and fashion. In order to understand the use of codes in different societies, a cross-cultural comparison of similar interpretive, social and textual codes in the American and Chinese Culture will be done.
Interpretive Codes (Chinese and American Ideological Codes)
One of the codes used in the two societies are ideological codes, which are part of interpretive codes. These codes are based on a society’s cultural values and the difference in people’s ideology. The American society is more into individualism whereby individual competence, independence and productivity are emphasized. In most cases, people focus on me and individual goals are emphasized in this ideology instead of emphasizing more on we in a group. On the other hand, the Chinese society is more into collectivism instead of individualism. The harmony of all is valued in this culture and personal matters, which are more valued in the American culture does not exist in the Chinese culture. The specific individual needs are therefore outweighed by collective or communal harmony in the Chinese culture. Apparently, this aspect of the Chinese community has a tradition since it originated with from Confucianism philosophy, which taught people to view themselves as belonging to a larger community. Group rules and norms therefore guide individuals in the collective community and people within this group are required to adhere to these rules. This means that success in this ideology is based on the harmonious interaction and merging of a person within a group instead of paying attention to oneself in the community interaction.
Since this is different from an American society, which is more into individualism, a Chinese person is likely to feel left out and is also likely to view Americans as cold and uncaring. This is also the same case with an American citizen in a Chinese society context. He/she is likely to be self reliant and confident. This means that the two are likely to feel left out when in the context of another culture. It might also be hard for a Chinese to adapt into the American setting and vice versa because of these aspects of the two societies.
Social Codes (American and Chinese Non-Language Codes)
These codes help in communication, interaction and getting other meanings related to culture. The use of non-language code between the two societies is that it helps in supplementing language and also helps in interaction within the society. One of these codes is the facial expression, which is present both in the Chinese and in the American society. Another non-language code used by the two societies is symbolic objects and body language all of which helps in supplementing language.
A gift, which is used in both the American and Chinese community, however, has different meaning when used in the two societies. In the Chinese culture a lotus gifts means that the receiver’s integrity is being glorified. This is so given that this is used as a purity symbol in the Chinese community. When the same is code is used in an American setting, it would signify another thing since the American society does not have the same interpretation as the Chinese community.
In the two communities, non-language codes have the ability of making or breaking efforts especially when used in a business setting. For example, in the Chinese setting, a woman does not gaze at her male opponents. This is not the case within the American culture setting since handshake and eye contact are required especially during a business conversation. Therefore, Chinese business women may leave behind a negative impression when they engage in American negotiations because of the differences in these non-language codes. In China, eye contact between women and men is guided by a tradition that requires women to practice the virtue of obedience to their fathers, their husbands and their sons with the latter being emphasized during widowhood. Chinese women are also supposed to behave in certain way when conducting them or during speech. Although these codes are traditional, the fact remains that they still exert some influence on Chinese women regardless of whether they are professionals or not. Therefore, Chinese women are likely to avoid direct gaze and are likely to adopt personalities that are more docile than American women.
Textual Codes (American and Chinese aesthetic codes)
One of the aesthetic codes used by the two societies is orchestra music. The Chinese orchestra is an adopted concept from the western world that was incorporated into the Chinese culture in the 20th century. Even though ever since time in memorial, the Chinese population has played their music in groups, the Chinese musicians formed their orchestras based on Western symphony orchestras. The music was written for these orchestras also relied heavily on western music theories.
This then explains why Chinese classical music highly resembles the western music. Originally, the Chinese music derived its flavor from the pentatonic scale. Currently, the composers do consider chromatic scales and the Chinese instruments are being modified to suit these new changes there are chord progressions that have been adopted from the Western music styles and are being used in the same way they are used in western types of music. Currently, a Chinese orchestra seat in a semi-circular format and they all face the conductor just the way it is done in the western symphony orchestras. There is also a specific way in which they place their instruments, for instance; the string instruments are always placed in front while the wind instruments are seated in the middle towards the back. This arrangement was also adapted from the Western symphony orchestras.
A typical American symphony orchestra on the hand has four main groups of relating musical instruments that include wood winds, percussion, and brass and string instruments just like in the Chinese orchestra symphony bands. Just like in the Chinese symphony orchestras, the Americans use the violin, viola, cello and double bass. However, they also use the keyboard and concert harp as stand alone in performance. The American orchestras have also included other instruments from the originally played ones. They include the classical guitar; heckle phone and flugelhorn that started to be used in the 20th century.
In both Chinese and American symphony orchestras, there is a large sized orchestra that contains less than fifty people, and then there is the full-size symphony orchestra that comprises of seventy to a hundred people. However, in both countries, the number of the musicians mostly ranges between 70 to 100 depending on the size of the venue and the work to be done during a particular performance. In both orchestras, the musicians are led by a conductor who is held responsible for directing the performance using physical gestures like the movements of the hands. His main responsibility is to make sure that the orchestra is well unified, the tempo is well set, and the sound is amicably shaped.
In conclusion, a cross comparison of different interpretive, textual and social codes in the American and Chinese culture shows that although some of the codes are similar, they are used differently in the two cultures. Facial expression, which is used by both the Chinese and American cultures, might be different when used across culture. Orchestra music, which is in both American and Chinese culture, is played different although inspired by the western culture. This is also the same case with the society in terms of ideological codes since the Chinese society is based on collectivism while American society is more into individualism.